J. Spaceman Sun City Girls - Mister Lonely Music From a Film by Harmony Korine (Drag City) Eric Nielsen 4.1.8
When the sad circus sounds float out at the beginning of this record and you’re looking at the names involved on the CD and you read Sir Richard Bishop, Sun City Girls, Harmony Korine, Werner Herzog (I love his voice, “We here in the broken nation are tired and bruised.”) and J. Spaceman of Spiritualized and Spacemen Three, you wonder where in the hell this evil little mantra will take you.
J. Spaceman opens with some modern Mercury Rev gentle tinklings and slides with voice-overs and steady background loops (he does a lot of those sounds on this disc). It does sound like a Mister Lonely’s a comin'. This soundtrack allows your mind to imagine some crazy beautiful broken film.
The 20 tracks are split between Sun City Girls (8) and J. Spaceman (12) but they utilize the same tone, texture and often instruments. Most of these vignettes are short with ambience and craziness to project both pleasant and chaotic sibilant sounds. Of course the back and forth between players adds to the juxtaposition when listened to as a whole.
I imagine the making of these songs, and it doesn’t strike me that there were a bunch of folk standing around recording organic instruments. It’s more an album made in the mind and on the board, on the fly, with instruments being pulled out of trick bags and sounds being coerced and forced together much like an experimental chef would combine elements in new ways. Occasionally a more natural sounding song bubbles through the ether and gently caresses the upper part of your brain, acting as if to soothe or subdue you while it gently lilts you into a more accepting listener. Spook is one of these songs. It’s a gentle keyboard ambient glide into the nether that allows you to right the listening ship, imagine the movie and get back on board amongst the storm of sounds that fill many of the early tracks on the album.
For the most part, the grating is made by J. Spaceman (except for those many modern Mercury Rev sounds) and the soothing is made by Sun City Girls. There is no doubt all of these songs together add up to one broken unfinished gem of a stone. They beckon you in and shift quickly, where the ambience puts you in another place. The stars align and somewhere around the middle of the disc a shift occurs, a subtle drift of narrative change. After the initial set of brain fuck pieces float by, a warm rag is placed over your closed eyes and the gentle downstream begins, sustaining about half of the album.
As said before, the songs are interspersed between J. and Sun City, where a close following of the track listing will reveal the spiritual pieces are mostly credited to Sun City Girls. Though I must say the tracking order is genius. Its interweaving between the acts and the themes of music are magnificent.
After some disturbance, the slow continental drift feeling of being on the moon, of intense self-reflection, of floating slowly away from your body or of floating away in space from the ship, maybe never to return. And for me, it’s that feeling that makes this disc a great success.